A special week
Logansport, West Lafayette, Frontier, Penn, Michigan City, Westville.
For a first-year head coach, Drew Eubank has seen more than his fair share of places in northern Indiana through the game of basketball.
But it hasn’t taken the Blackhawks boys coach long to grasp that there’s just something different about the Porter County Conference.
“I’ve been at small schools, but it was spread out. Going from Frontier to Tri-County, North White, it’s a haul. The kids don’t know each other,” Eubank said as he prepared for his first PCC tournament this week. “The difference is the conference. Being around here, it’s the close proximity, the unique geography of the Region. The kids all know each other well. A lot of them are friends. A lot of the communities are tied through one thing or another. It’s a unique situation.”
As an assistant at Michigan City for six years, Eubank was always well aware of the PCC, keeping tabs on it. He knows what it meant for Westville to win its first tourney in 2017 when Nathan Albers’ last-second rebound basket against Hebron cemented his place in school hoops history.
“I’d see the highlights, the game-winning shot,” Eubank said. “Obviously, there have been a lot of big moments in recent years.”
It was well before the start of the season when Eubank got his first taste of what the PCC means to kids.
“I picked up on that with the couple conference schools we played in summer league,” he said. “The intensity was about as high as it can be. It was similar to sectionals I’ve been involved in before. It’s taken pretty seriously. It’s a great league. I’m excited to be part of it and be part of the tournament.”
Part of the pomp and circumstance of the conference tournament is the sportsmanship banquet, which Eubank likewise enjoyed for the first time a week ago Sunday at the La Porte Civic Auditorium. The site housed the event with the usual venue, the Porter County Expo Center, undergoing construction.
“It was something else,” he said. “That was my first time at the civic center as well. I was interesting hearing people talking about it being there. A building like that, with a basketball floor down there somewhere, it was really a terrific atmosphere. (Westville assistants) Luke Daurer and Antonio Hurt play in a rec league there. It was really cool to be a part of it. It was neat to see the kids interact.”
The Blackhawks face South Central in their opener Thursday at Kouts, but Eubank has quickly come to realize that the games are only a portion of the festivities that comprise this special week.
“The whole week is kind of like if the boys and girls sectionals are at the same time,” he said. “We have to plan practices so we can go see the girls play and vice versa. You’ve got the fan bus, the pep session, the (dance team) competition on Saturday. It’s a big deal for the cheerleaders, the dance team, the students who are part of the cheer block. It’s definitely a unique situation. The kids are keyed up for it.”
As a PCC newbie, Eubank has leaned on Athletic Director and girls coach Josh Goeringer and players who have been through the tournament before to make sure he doesn’t overlook anything.
“There’s a lot more to plan for than I realized coming in,” Eubank said. “It’s like I’m waiting for them to tell me what to do. I’ve never been a part of anything like it.”